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Draper teen wins division at Utah State Junior Amateur

Jul 31, 2018 02:35PM ● Published by Catherine Garrett

Draper’s Zach Felts won the 13–14-year-old division at the Utah State Junior Amateur June 8. (Photo courtesy Cody Felts)

By Catherine Garrett | c.garrett@mycityjournals.com 

Two years ago, Draper’s Zach Felts reached the finals of his division in the Utah State Amateur and placed second. This year, he defeated Cedar Hills’ Preston Smithson to win the 13–14-year-old division at Oakridge Country Club June 8. 

“Champion felt a lot different this year,” Zach said. “My medal was also bigger.”

“For Zach to pull off from his heartbreak from two years ago and win this time, that’s just a big accomplishment,” his father Cody Felts said. 

At the five-day event, Zach placed second with a round of 72 and went into match play as the No. 2 seed. During match play, he defeated Cooper Milne 3 & 2, Jalen Martinez 2 & 1 and Peter Kim 3 & 2 to reach the finals against Preston Smithson, where he won 1-up. 

“Match play is always fun,” Zach said. “It’s fun to move through the bracket.” 

He also won the Utah State Junior Stroke Play Championship July 2–3 at Spanish Oaks Golf Course, shooting a 75 and 76 for a three-stroke victory over Peter Kim. It was the second time in three years that he has won the event. 

“It was hot and the conditions were tough,” Cody Felts said. “This event is considered one of the majors for the season so it was another nice for Zach.” 

Additionally, Zach won his division at the Lynn Summerhays Junior Championship at the Ranches Golf Club and Meadowbrook Golf Course July 10–11, shooting a 74 and 77 for a four-stroke victory. 

The son of Cody and Ann Felts of Draper has been playing golf since he was 2 years old and began hitting golf balls at the driving range. He competed in his first tournament at First Lakes six years later and won a tournament at Southgate in St. George when he was 9.

This past season, he also tied for second at the UJGA Preview at Bloomington Country Club in St. George May 18, fourth at the FCG Johnny Miller Utah Championship at Talons Cove June 25–26, tied for sixth at the three-day Optimist Qualifying at Sleepy Ridge Golf Club June 13–15 and tied for 10th at the Jay Don Blake FCG World Jr. Qualifying May 19. He also finished 11th at the Utah Junior Open June 27–28. 

When Zach was 12, he won a two-day tournament at Hobble Creek/Spanish Creek. He also counts a hole-in-one on Hidden Valley Country Club’s par 3 No. 2 hole as a highlight in his young career. 

He plays 20 tournaments a year with the goal of constant improvement and trying to catch up to his older brother, Tyler, who will be a junior on the Corner Canyon High golf team this fall. 

“It’s been interesting to watch Zach develop in golf,” Cody Felts said. “Zach’s a very competitive person and he’s had to learn patience. It’s been neat to see the growth that’s happened to him.” 

The game of golf has taught Zach valuable lessons about maintaining a positive attitude. “Zach’s learned that his attitude and behavior makes a difference in golf,” Cody Felts said. “He’s really changed and grown that way.”

“I’m always trying to improve on staying positive,” Zach said. “When you have one bad shot, you have to look at it that you have about 75 shots during a round so it’s just one shot. That kind of thinking helps me get stronger mentally.” 

Integrity has also been a life lesson on and off the course for Zach as he has played with others that have cheated or lied about their scores. “My dad always says, ‘Is it worth it to sell your soul to the devil for a score?’” Zach said. “Cheating will always come back to you so I’ve just decided to never do it.” 

The incoming ninth grader wants to play varsity on the CCHS golf team next season and has his sights set on playing in college. 

“Zach just happens to love golf and does pretty well with it,” Cody Felts said. “As his dad, I’m proud of his accomplishments on the course, but I’m more proud of the kind of person he is and what an important part of our family he is. He’s very kind and nice to his brothers and sisters and he would rather hang with his brothers than anyone else.”

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